Fisheries, Food & Culture Duke- WWF Research Initiative

Duke University and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), with expertise and shared interests in conservation, natural resource management, and food security, are launching a partnership to produce impactful research that will advance understanding of marine food systems and the management practices necessary to effectively, equitably, and durably sustain them. 

The current research initiative, co-developed by scholars and practitioners at Duke and WWF, comprises two complementary work streams that will focus on the social and cultural aspects of fisheries food systems, particularly around gender, governance, food security, and nutrition. Understanding the governance and socio-cultural context of marine food systems is critical to achieving sustainable and equitable outcomes. Marine governance speaks to how decisions are made regarding marine resources and by whom. Culture is an umbrella term that includes beliefs, traditions, values, and repeated patterns of behavior such as gender norms for decision making and benefit-sharing. Specific research activities with focus on critical knowledge gaps identified by the post-doctoral researchers and Duke-WWF experts during a scoping workshop, mostly drawing on syntheses of existing data and literature. Our intention is to build a portfolio of co-developed relevant research outputs in each work stream that will inform policy and practice in support of coastal fishing communities.

The “Fish as Food” workstream, led by Dr. Ranaivo Rasolofoson and advised by Dr. David Gill (PI) and Dr. Gabby Ahmadia (PI), will examine key elements of conservation interventions and coastal social-ecological systems that shape food security and related social outcomes from conservation. This work intends to advance knowledge on the role of governance, intervention design, and context in enabling successful outcomes for fisheries and food security in coastal communities.

The “Food and Culture” workstream, led by Dr. Hillary Smith and advised by Dr. Grant Murray and Dr. Norbert Wilson, seeks to analyze the relationships between gender and fisheries food systems. The research aims to inform policy and practice related to equitable food systems, fisheries governance, and their relationships with coastal food security and nutrition.

Project Timeline: Fall 2021 – Summer 2023